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sexualwithasexual

"Married, With Infidelities" article

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sexualwithasexual

http://www.nytimes.com/2011/07/03/magazine/infidelity-will-keep-us-together.html

This article came out in the New York Times on June 30th, and talks about Dan Savage's views on infidelity in light of Anthony Weiner's (A former U.S. Representative) recent twittering/sexting scandal.

The article is long and really plows through Savage's honest consideration of the basis of marriage resting on fidelity. He thinks it's misguided. He poses that honesty, forgiveness and commitment be the new groundwork, and proposes that partners who wish for certain sexual experiences in a marriage, but can't have them for some reason, come to an agreement to go outside of the marriage, with some ground rules in place.

I know all of this has been hashed over big time on the forums here at Aven, and I've been off for while, but this article really makes sense to me and I'm wondering what others think. My relationship with my asexual partner is stronger than ever, even with my serious crushes and attractions outside of the relationship. While we haven't come to agree that sex outside of the relationship is part of the picture, we are getting closer. Now that we both have known that she is asexual and I'm sexual (for the last 1.5 years), neither of us feels like having sex with the other. We are 'out' to each other and now just don't have any sex or desire to - with each other. So of course, being sexual, I'm finding myself ever attracted to others. I've always experienced some crushes, but now the feelings are stronger. Yet I do not feel like leaving the relationship. Our relationship (obviously) is not based on sexual relations. We've been together now for over 16 years. We never argue, we are true soul mates. We are more to each other than roommates, friends or family. We are lovers - minus sex or any intimacy other than a rare snuggle or back rub. And that feels right.

While my crushes and attractions to others can sometimes be strong, and I do, at times, want to act on them in some way, never have I met anyone that means as much to me as my current partner. (and I'm in my 40's...)

So I do think we are inching ourselves closer to testing this idea of "Marriage, with Infidelities." Anyone out there with us?

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Effanineffable

I've always thought there'd be some ideological overlap between asexuality (loosely defined) and polyamory (loosely defined). I must look further into this. Do you know of some AVEN-equivalent (forum, info site) for people of your mindset?

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Gho St Ory Qwan

It's the sort of thing I'd want with a sexual, but it's not something I'm doing. Any sexuals I know showing an interest would dislike this idea and not see the point in being together either, so yeah. But I personally don't see the issue. I mean if sex isn't a part of your relationship, there's no need to treat it as an exclusive thing. The one who enjoys or needs that in their life can seek it. I personally, at this point in time, don't think it's a bad idea.

I might worry they'd be better suited for the person they have a crush on and a sexual inter-relationship with. But honest, open communication is something I need constantly to reassure myself I'm not withholding someone from what they really want or need. Sex or not, that is important. =]

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sexualwithasexual

I might worry they'd be better suited for the person they have a crush on and a sexual inter-relationship with. But honest, open communication is something I need constantly to reassure myself I'm not withholding someone from what they really want or need. Sex or not, that is important. =]

Thanks for this! This is helpful, as this is also my big worry. Even though we don't have sex now, we have in the past, and it was important for both of us emotionally. We bonded in a way through sex, even if my partner wasn't experiencing attraction the way I was. But having sex with someone else would not make the other person better suited for me as a life partner. We can't help the fact that we are products of our culture, with its definition of what romance and love should be. Even though sex is not part of our relationship, and we've accepted that, we still struggle against thinking that it means that we should split. Maybe we should. But something in me (and this article) makes me think there's gotta be a better way!

Any other advice on what not to do? Or to do? In terms of understanding what this might be like from an asexual vantage point? I think that it would be very hard not to think that I would leave. I think we need to test this in a safe way for both of us emotionally. That's kinda where I'm at right now.

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Urban_Sidhe

You say that you are open and honest with your partner? Shouldn't think conversation be directed at her? I've know quite a few couples (while not asexuals) who wife swap or have other intimacy partners outside of the relationship with the partner's knowledge. I, myself, would never want my partner to be with anyone else. I think it would be very hard for your partner not to have feelings of inadequacy because she can't perform the way you want.

You two could always experiment. There was a couple on the show Taboo for one episode. Twice a week the guy or the girl would bring home a partner after a date, sometimes the three of them would go out. Then (depending on who's date it was) they'd have sex. There was to be no cuddling or anything romantic. They'd have sex and then the extramarital person would go his separate way. Rule 2 is that they cannot have a repeat date.

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Sally

Have you actually talked with her about this? If so, how does she feel? That's not clear from your post.

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sexualwithasexual

Have you actually talked with her about this? If so, how does she feel? That's not clear from your post.

We've talked about it for years. We started our relationship as "open." Then once that was really attempted, she felt we should stay monogamous. She felt inadequate at times and has tried to break up over that. We always end up talking through it and staying together. After realizing she was asexual, she really feared that it was over and it took her a while to feel more comfortable, and realize I wasn't leaving. She finally felt I accepted her for who she is. And I do. The idea of having sexual feelings for another person confuses her. I'm not totally sure what she thinks. She doesn't really want to talk about it. She feels hurt when I have a crush, but she actually totally understands and once we live with it for a few months, she realizes that it's not a threat. That's why I think that over time, it could evolve into something that works for the both of us. It may be pretty hard for a while. It may never work. I don't know. But Dan Savage has made it work! Do you think it only works because they are both sexual? I like his cake story. Did you read the article?

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Lady Heartilly

The one time I suggested this to my sexual boyfriend, he actually said that suggesting he have sex with another woman instead of me is quite rude because it's as if I'm pushing him away or saying I want it to be someone else's problem instead of mine, which was of course, not the case at all. There are many people who can't have sex with anyone other than the person they're in love with because it would feel wrong, and that makes something like this nearly impossible for them.

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Sally

Have you actually talked with her about this? If so, how does she feel? That's not clear from your post.

We've talked about it for years. We started our relationship as "open." Then once that was really attempted, she felt we should stay monogamous. She felt inadequate at times and has tried to break up over that. We always end up talking through it and staying together. After realizing she was asexual, she really feared that it was over and it took her a while to feel more comfortable, and realize I wasn't leaving. She finally felt I accepted her for who she is. And I do. The idea of having sexual feelings for another person confuses her. I'm not totally sure what she thinks. She doesn't really want to talk about it. She feels hurt when I have a crush, but she actually totally understands and once we live with it for a few months, she realizes that it's not a threat. That's why I think that over time, it could evolve into something that works for the both of us. It may be pretty hard for a while. It may never work. I don't know. But Dan Savage has made it work! Do you think it only works because they are both sexual? I like his cake story. Did you read the article?

It works for Savage and his partner, Terry, because they supposedly agree to it (although as far as I know, Terry's never written about it). They live in my town and Savage is the editor of the local newspaper The Stranger and SLOG blog, so I read his stuff a lot. He's posted quite often about being "monogam-ish".

But Savage doesn't do it because his and Terry's relationship isn't sexual, so that's really a different kind of relationship. As an asexual woman whose partner was not monogamous for part of our relationship, even though I didn't want sex but only had it because he expected it, it hurt me when he had another partner. It was a threat because it's really difficult to maintain a "sex only" relationship, without emotional content, and that's what the threat is. If the asexual can only offer emotional content, but the other partner can offer both emotion and mutually-enjoyable sex, then the asexual feels a little less...competent, let's say, in the relationship.

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`Silver
As an asexual woman whose partner was not monogamous for part of our relationship, even though I didn't want sex but only had it because he expected it, it hurt me when he had another partner. It was a threat because it's really difficult to maintain a "sex only" relationship, without emotional content, and that's what the threat is. If the asexual can only offer emotional content, but the other partner can offer both emotion and mutually-enjoyable sex, then the asexual feels a little less...competent, let's say, in the relationship.

My feelings exactly. I believe having "consented affairs" would be much better than hiding them, but I would personally never want it for my hypothetical sexual partner. I can compromise in other ways, but not let him seek sex elsewhere, because I know it is very likely to lead to a breach in our relationship in favour of one with the newly found sexual.

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Gho St Ory Qwan

Yeah I think talking it over will help. Figuring out what they can deal with. Like if you having a crush on them is an issue you might not be able to have sex with ones you have a crush on. Or something. Setting up agreed boundaries and ensuring should things go that way, they're completely open might help. But other than that I couldn't offer advise, because it depends on you and your partner and the other possible people involved.

Best of luck. =]

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Lady Girl

It didn't work for us for all the reasons stated above. What's working best for us is to compromise with each other.

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Matters Of The Heart

My two best friends just got out of an open relationship, and by "got out of" I meant they broke up because of the huge problems open relationships cause.

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sexualwithasexual

thanks everyone. This has been helpful. I'll try and keep you all updated. I do think that relationships evolve and change and that doesn't necessarily mean they need to end. We've come so close to that, but keep realizing that we have a very strong relationship that can go beyond the physical (and yes emotional) feelings I have for others. I also think that one relationship cannot supply all the types of emotional support one may need. Maybe some can, but for most people, I think that different relationships provide a variety of opportunities for growth on emotional levels. You know? And that doesn't mean they threaten the relationship I have with my chosen lifemate (for lack of a better word).

I have two friends who are in a long term relationship right now, it's a mixed sexuality relationship too (one's straight, one's bi-sexual) and they are traveling down this monogamish road too, so it's helpful to talk to them. My partner tends to prefer to look the other way, and seems happy that I need her most of all. But I do want to know more from Sally. So your relationship did go the monogamish route, but still ended? Can you tell me more about the end circumstances? It's cool that you live in Seattle. I love Seattle so much. I don't always agree with Savage. He can come off as sexist and, as that article pointed out, pretty conservative, surprisingly. And that is interesting that we don't really know what Terry really feels about all of this. But they are together, and seem happy!

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Vampyremage
As an asexual woman whose partner was not monogamous for part of our relationship, even though I didn't want sex but only had it because he expected it, it hurt me when he had another partner. It was a threat because it's really difficult to maintain a "sex only" relationship, without emotional content, and that's what the threat is. If the asexual can only offer emotional content, but the other partner can offer both emotion and mutually-enjoyable sex, then the asexual feels a little less...competent, let's say, in the relationship.

My feelings exactly. I believe having "consented affairs" would be much better than hiding them, but I would personally never want it for my hypothetical sexual partner. I can compromise in other ways, but not let him seek sex elsewhere, because I know it is very likely to lead to a breach in our relationship in favour of one with the newly found sexual.

What about the idea of having a third party in which both partners have a connection to? For myself, that is an ideal far more than an actual open relationship, but rather a closed polyamorous relationship. The idea of a third and equal partner that is emotionally close to both of the original partners but allows for the two other partners in the trio to have that sexual relationship that one of the original partners craved while remaining non-threatening because the emotional connection exists strongly for all three and between all three. I have never had the opportunity to experience this in person, but I one day hope to.

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Vampyremage

My two best friends just got out of an open relationship, and by "got out of" I meant they broke up because of the huge problems open relationships cause.

I think relationships in general have the potential to cause huge problems. I'm not saying that open relationships can't cause problems of their own, because I'm sure they can. However, I think that insinuating that all or most open relationships cause huge problems is overstating the matter. We live in a society that promotes monogamous two party relationship and I think, by extension, any sort of open or polyamorous relationship is somewhat demonized. If the parties involved are mature, I don't think that it inherently causes more problems than conventional monogamous relationships. Hell, if the parties are immature I don't think it causes more problems than immature parties in conventional monogamous relationships, its just that when the problems are created, the blame is always put on the fact that the relationship is "open".

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Gho St Ory Qwan
As an asexual woman whose partner was not monogamous for part of our relationship, even though I didn't want sex but only had it because he expected it, it hurt me when he had another partner. It was a threat because it's really difficult to maintain a "sex only" relationship, without emotional content, and that's what the threat is. If the asexual can only offer emotional content, but the other partner can offer both emotion and mutually-enjoyable sex, then the asexual feels a little less...competent, let's say, in the relationship.

My feelings exactly. I believe having "consented affairs" would be much better than hiding them, but I would personally never want it for my hypothetical sexual partner. I can compromise in other ways, but not let him seek sex elsewhere, because I know it is very likely to lead to a breach in our relationship in favour of one with the newly found sexual.

What about the idea of having a third party in which both partners have a connection to? For myself, that is an ideal far more than an actual open relationship, but rather a closed polyamorous relationship. The idea of a third and equal partner that is emotionally close to both of the original partners but allows for the two other partners in the trio to have that sexual relationship that one of the original partners craved while remaining non-threatening because the emotional connection exists strongly for all three and between all three. I have never had the opportunity to experience this in person, but I one day hope to.

How ideal. I'd love that. Think of all the group cuddles. =3 That way there's less issues about mistrust and temptation to lie or whatever. And everyone could hopefully feel loved.

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`Silver

What about the idea of having a third party in which both partners have a connection to? For myself, that is an ideal far more than an actual open relationship, but rather a closed polyamorous relationship. The idea of a third and equal partner that is emotionally close to both of the original partners but allows for the two other partners in the trio to have that sexual relationship that one of the original partners craved while remaining non-threatening because the emotional connection exists strongly for all three and between all three. I have never had the opportunity to experience this in person, but I one day hope to.

I have no prejudice over any kind of relationship, but non-monogamous relationships are not what I desire. I couldn't connect on the same level with two people. To me, everyone is unique on their own and yes, there is a definite difference between how important one person is to me, compared to another. Not even once in my life I have felt the same bond with two people and not even once would I have hesitated in choosing which one to lose to keep the other, if I had to. Therefore, I wouldn't be able to live in such a relationship because one of the two people would still matter more than the other to me.

That's my two cents though. Honestly, I appreciate people who can have polyamorous relationships with both partners being perfectly fine with it. What you just described sounds very good for a lot of people, it's just that's not really my cup of tea :P

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Sally

What about the idea of having a third party in which both partners have a connection to? For myself, that is an ideal far more than an actual open relationship, but rather a closed polyamorous relationship. The idea of a third and equal partner that is emotionally close to both of the original partners but allows for the two other partners in the trio to have that sexual relationship that one of the original partners craved while remaining non-threatening because the emotional connection exists strongly for all three and between all three. I have never had the opportunity to experience this in person, but I one day hope to.

It's difficult enough for each party to feel "equal" in a two-party relationship, especially with the always-changing dynamics of relationships. Having a third partner who also wants an equal emotional connection to each of the other parties is an ideal that I just don't think is practical.

Dan Savage and his partner don't do that -- Dan's made it clear that although they don't feel it necessary to be sexual monogamous, they--the two of them--are the parternship relationship.

If anyone on AVEN has actually had an emotionally-equal three-person relationship, it would be interesting to hear how it went.

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sexualwithasexual

What about the idea of having a third party in which both partners have a connection to? For myself, that is an ideal far more than an actual open relationship, but rather a closed polyamorous relationship. The idea of a third and equal partner that is emotionally close to both of the original partners but allows for the two other partners in the trio to have that sexual relationship that one of the original partners craved while remaining non-threatening because the emotional connection exists strongly for all three and between all three. I have never had the opportunity to experience this in person, but I one day hope to.

It's difficult enough for each party to feel "equal" in a two-party relationship, especially with the always-changing dynamics of relationships. Having a third partner who also wants an equal emotional connection to each of the other parties is an ideal that I just don't think is practical.

Dan Savage and his partner don't do that -- Dan's made it clear that although they don't feel it necessary to be sexual monogamous, they--the two of them--are the parternship relationship.

If anyone on AVEN has actually had an emotionally-equal three-person relationship, it would be interesting to hear how it went.

This is the ideal situation that I would like to attain. I think it is possible. If everyone knows and trusts each other, and if it's clear that it's NOT about equal exchanges, I think it has some potential to work. I think to require "equality" in any relationship is actually a way to doom it. In my primary relationship right now, we do not give and take equally. It varies considerably, given what each of us is going through at any given time. I doubt any relationship can really be an equally 50/50 or 33/33/33 giver/taker. To measure these things is what gets us into trouble. (although it's very important to try for equality or to at least be considerate of one another.)

I'm in my relationship for so many reasons, some quite banal. We share our resources. We both like to have and care for cats. We are equally messy/clean. We have the same political/religious/monetary ideals and approaches. We like the way each other smells. We never get bored with each others company. I could go on, and on and on. But, sometimes emotionally, intellectually, physically, musically, whatever... we need someone else to kind of supplement. Not replace. Add. It's not mathematical. Not logical, but it is human. There are no guarantees. (in our relationship, that's partly because we decided that long ago. We are not married and have always said we'd only stay together as long as we were both happy and wanted to stay.)

But I'm just talking off the top of my head, although I have obviously thought a lot about this. My friends are trying this now and they are making it work. They are a few steps ahead of us, and it is painful. When one of them likes someone, they do tell each other and it's important that they both feel safe. And they do. They know the alternative is to break up, and they just don't want to. I agree with vampy very much. Relationships are crazy, risky, unstable beasts - mature or not, monogamous or not. Happiness and self-discovery is what's important, and I think there are different ways to describe what our relationships are. Not just "friendship" "married" "family" "monogamous." I think we need to realize why we are REALLY together in the first place. Is it really to be the undivided receiver and giver of all our emotional/physical love? We don't require all of the lover's intellectual attention, etc.. Isn't a very special living companion that you feel so tender and protective of a type of relationship that we should try to maintain, even if it means risking a little love and affection "spent" on someone else?

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Pamcakes

On terminology:

A mutually understood nonmonogamous situation isn't infidelity.

Infidelity - literally being "unfaithful" - means just that; breaking faith with one's partner. Breaking a promise they trusted one to keep. Infidelity is always categorically a betrayal, so assigning that terminology to open or alternatively-structured relationships is inaccurate, trivialises infidelity and misrepresents consensual nonmonogamy.

P.

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oneofthesun

I think to require "equality" in any relationship is actually a way to doom it. In my primary relationship right now, we do not give and take equally. It varies considerably, given what each of us is going through at any given time. I doubt any relationship can really be an equally 50/50 or 33/33/33 giver/taker. To measure these things is what gets us into trouble.

I think so too. I really only want 25% of a relationship; someone else might want 75%.

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Gho St Ory Qwan

I think to require "equality" in any relationship is actually a way to doom it. In my primary relationship right now, we do not give and take equally. It varies considerably, given what each of us is going through at any given time. I doubt any relationship can really be an equally 50/50 or 33/33/33 giver/taker. To measure these things is what gets us into trouble.

I think so too. I really only want 25% of a relationship; someone else might want 75%.

That's 'cause only 25% is the good part trolol

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Avistew

I think the important thing would be for the sexual to also be poly.

First, if the sexual is mono, they might not want sex with someone else. It might be something they only want to share with you. It's not always the case, but for some people emotions and sex are tied very strongly.

For similar reasons, even if they can still have casual sex, there is the risk that they would develop feelings, because sex and emotions can be tied, even in people who can also have them separately. If they're mono and develop feelings for somebody else, that means their relationship with you would weaken and eventually break.

However, if they are mono, you could look into a swinger scene. This scene is meant specifically to be about sex. Some places don't even let you have sex with the same people regularly to prevent getting too attached. I'm not too familiar with the swinging scene, not being a swinger myself, but it could be adapted.

One problem is that what makes a couple stronger rather than weaker with swinging is sharing the experience, from what I've heard. Same thing with Dan Savage, his nonmonogamous experiences were involving both him and his partner in most of the cases as far as I know. That would be harder when the asexual partner wouldn't be sharing it physically and might not want to share it in other ways by discussing it a lot and so on (not that it would work for everyone either).

If the sexual is poly, I don't think it would be a problem. Being sexual and poly, I can absolutely see having an asexual partner. I would probably crave sex with them, but if they're not repulsed by things like cuddling and kissing it would be enough for me as I would have sex elsewhere anyways. I would be with the asexual partner for the emotional connexion and because I love them. I wouldn't gain anything by giving up that relationship, it would be a net loss for me. So I think in that kind on context it's much safer for an ace, as I totally understand the fear of losing one's partner to someone who will satisfy them sexually.

tl;dr: I think it would only work if the sexual is poly or the context of the extramarital sex is such that feelings are unlikely to develop.

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traveller

In the topic list page of forum. the title of this thread shows as

Married with infidel < well i thought it was funny.... :P

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sexualwithasexual

I think the important thing would be for the sexual to also be poly.

First, if the sexual is mono, they might not want sex with someone else. It might be something they only want to share with you. It's not always the case, but for some people emotions and sex are tied very strongly.

For similar reasons, even if they can still have casual sex, there is the risk that they would develop feelings, because sex and emotions can be tied, even in people who can also have them separately. If they're mono and develop feelings for somebody else, that means their relationship with you would weaken and eventually break.

This whole response made me think of lots of issues and brought up questions, and was very helpful to me. At first I read the first sentence and thought it said "asexual" instead of "sexual." And I immediately thought, "Yeah!"

Basically, I realized I need to have a conversation with my partner about polyamorous feelings. She may not have sexual attraction to other people in her life, but she does have crushes. She won't really admit to it, but we joke about it, so I'm pretty sure she does. So my idea of polyamorous may be different from Avistew's, at least for myself. I think I can have romantic feelings towards others outside my primary relationship, and in some cases, it's just that. With others, it's emotional, and in still others its physical attraction and emotional. Maybe I'm Demi or something, cuz I hardly ever have the purely physical-only-kind of attraction to someone. I have to know them and like them first, and maybe I even have to have some emotional something going on between us. Not sure about that.

But the last sentence I quoted, about the eventual break, out of developing feelings for others - well that has not been the case with me. While I've rarely ever been physically involved with anyone outside of my primary relationship, I have had deep, important, emotionally complex relationships, with romantic feelings present, and yet I've never wanted to leave my partner.

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Sally

But the last sentence I quoted, about the eventual break, out of developing feelings for others - well that has not been the case with me. While I've rarely ever been physically involved with anyone outside of my primary relationship, I have had deep, important, emotionally complex relationships, with romantic feelings present, and yet I've never wanted to leave my partner.

Yes, I wonder if asexuals realize that that can be the case. It doesn't mean that the person who has feelings for person B but doesn't want to leave partner A is polyamorous; it can simply mean that it's possible for anyone to have strong feelings for two people at once. My former partner did for several years; he didn't want to leave me, but he felt strongly about someone else also. That wasn't difficult for him per se, but it was at the same time difficult for all three of us because she and I were quite unhappy while that situation lasted.

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Avistew
So my idea of polyamorous may be different from Avistew's

Maybe, but nothing in your post led me to believe so. Polyamorous simply means having the ability to be in love with more than one person at a time. It can be important that the sexual partner is as a safeguard, because otherwise if they develop feelings for someone else that means their feelings for the first person weaken or disappear. On the other hand many people don't know they're poly until they fall in love a second time while still in love.

Then I also said if they are mono, then they need to be able to have sex without feelings (so that they have the sex, but not the feelings, so they don't stop loving the ace), and suggested swinging. Neither swinging nor monoamory are things I'm really familiar with though so the extent to which I can help is limited.

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Guest Jay26

Marriage is a committment to be faithful to one person. All people develop feelings for other people even while in a marriage. It's the committment part that keeps you from pursuing them. If you can't deal with being in a relationship with one life-long partner, don't get married. TYAMGBA.

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sexualwithasexual

Marriage is a committment to be faithful to one person. All people develop feelings for other people even while in a marriage. It's the committment part that keeps you from pursuing them. If you can't deal with being in a relationship with one life-long partner, don't get married. TYAMGBA.

I know this thread title includes "Married" and "Infidelities" but really my issues are about being in a semi-open relationship. My partner and I never have gotten married, and even though it's likely we could at some point (we are lesbians) we don't want to. Not just for open relationship reasons, though.

I still don't totally understand the definition of polyamorous, but maybe that's because I don't totally understand "being in love" to begin with. My feelings for anyone are varied, depending on the person. My feelings towards my partner are unique to her, I'd never feel the same for someone else. But I do have intense feelings for others. The whole idea of not "pursuing" them I take to mean not on a physical level. How can you not pursue a feeling? It just happens. You can avoid the person, but I think that's just crazy. I've been with an asexual for 16 years, and have not had sex in the last 6 of those years. I think I can stay in a relationship and not have sex.

But I also just think that we can open up these kinds of commitments we do have, so that the relationship stays together. But my partner has to feel the same way. I see what Sally's been through as a glimpse into what can go wrong here. But I also see that maybe it wasn't wrong at all. We need to try to stay in otherwise healthy relationships. I really want to. But I also realize there are no guarantees. I think at first my partner would we feel inadequate, but I would hope we could grow past that point. She has to be willing to let us see, rather than splitting..

I've written a letter to her explaining all of this. I'm still working on the letter, but I will give it to her soon.

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